Columbia First Federal Savings & Loan Association of Washington, which is trying to head off an incursion by a wealthy Baltimore investor, yesterday won the support of a midwestern corporation that holds a major stake in the District thrift.
Diana Corp., a subsidiary of Farm House Foods, said it would vote its 9.8 percent of Columbia First stock for three incumbent directors who are up for election at the thrift's annual meeting Jan. 26.
The move by Diana may give Columbia First management a commanding lead in its battle with Harold N. Goldsmith of Baltimore, who is chairman of Merry-Go-Round Enterprises, a retail clothing chain, and president of the Eastern Saving Bank of Timonium, Md.
Goldsmith, who owns 9.8 percent of the Columbia First stock, and his two associates have asked stockholders to elect them to the three open seats because, "A new voice should be heard on the board of directors."
In return for the support of Diana Corp., the management of Columbia First promised to support Diana's application to the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, which regulates thrift institutions, to allow Diana to increase its stake in the thrift to 24.9 percent.
Under Columbia First's present rules, investors may not acquire more than 10 percent of the institution's stock.
Columbia First said it would hold a special stockholder's meeting after the Jan. 26 meeting to repeal the 10 percent limitation, which it said was no longer "necessary or appropriate" for the protection of the stockholders.
Under the agreement, if Diana ever decides to acquire more than 24.9 percent of Columbia First stock, it would be required to bid for all outstanding shares at the same price.
Goldsmith, in his proxy solicitation, said Columbia First's management was pursuing policies that could be "detrimental" to the company.
Also on Goldsmith's slate of board nominees are David C. Daneker, a Baltimore attorney , and Barry H. Stern, president of Stern and Moran Properties, a real estate development company in Washington.
They are opposing current directors C. Gay Harrell Jr., executive vice president of Columbia First; James M. Jacobsen, owner of Jacobsen Bros. Inc. and Jacobsen Properties, and Flaxie M. Pinkett, president of John R. Pinkett Inc., a Washington real estate company.
DeWitt T. Hartwell, Columbia First president, said, "We are very pleased with this demonstration of support for Columbia's First's long-term goals and strategies by one of the principal stockholders in the company."
Richard Fisher, chairman of Diana Corp., said the agreement "reflects the constructive and friendly relationship that has been established between our two companies."
Farm House Foods Corp., which distributes foods to restaurant chains, owns 60 percent of Diana Corp., which in turn has investments in several other companies, including CasaBlanca Industries, which manufacturers ceiling fans. However, Diana is presently engaged in a tender offer to gain control of Farm House Foods.